Scientific Name: Trichogaster leeri

Breeding Strategy: Bubble nester

Ease of Breeding: Easy

Introduction: These fish are considered by many aquarists to be among the most beautiful of the freshwater species. They can grow to 5 or more inches, and are gener­ally peaceful—at least for gouramis!

Sex Differences: Males have red-orange breasts that get even more vivid when they are in breeding dress. In addition, their dorsal fins are long and pointed, while those of females are short and rounded.

Water Conditions: Hardness and pH not critical as long as they are not extreme.Temperature should be around 80°F. Some breeders recommend a water depth of about 8 inches.

Equipment: Some breeders spawn these fish in a 10-gallon tank, but a 20-gallon long would be better. Add a cover, heater, filter, and plenty of fine-leaved plants. Some breeders add the lid to a margarine contain­er or a piece of Styrofoam sliced from the bottom of a cup as an anchor for the bub­ble nest. This anchor can be fastened to the side of the tank by a length of string or allowed to float free. Males can be aggres­sive during spawning, so make sure the tank has plenty of hiding places for the female.

Conditioning and Triggers: Condition separately with live foods such as brine shrimp for about two weeks. Some breeders say that gradually raising the temperature to as high as 87°F may trigger spawning.

Spawning: Put the female into the tank a few hours before the male, so he thinks he's in her territory and not the other way around. The male will build his bubble nest, which may be several inches in diameter. When it is done, the male will attempt to lure or prod the female under it. Sometimes she nibbles at him to indicate her willingness to spawn. When she is in position under the nest, he curls himself around her and flips her upside down as she releases eggs. Remove the female but leave the male to guard the nest.

Brood Size: About 300

Fry Care: Fry hatch in about a day and become free swimming about four days after that. Remove the male at this time, and feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food. When they are about two weeks old, add baby brine shrimp. Keep the tank covered so that the air above the surface of the water remains warm and humid, and do a partial water change every two to three days. About three weeks after hatching, add a sponge filter. As the fry grow, be prepared to move them to other tanks to avoid too high a stocking density in the rearing tank.

Species with Similar Breeding Habits: Blue Gourami, Gold Gourami, Opaline Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus); Moonlight Gourami (Trichogaster microlepis); Snakeskin Gourami (Trichogaster pectoralis).